By Dr. Apoorva Pallam Reddy, Gynaecology
Vitamin D is a type of fat soluble Vitamin (these Vitamins dissolve in fat and can be stored in the liver), that is not very commonly present in foods. The main source of Vitamin D for the human body is sunlight; that is the UV rays of the sun help in the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body.
The primary role of this important Vitamin is to boost the ability of the body to absorb calcium and therefore keep the bones healthy. Vitamin D has a “non-gene” action; it has the ability to switch genes OFF and ON. Deficiency of this Vitamin raises the risks of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer. Apart from these problems, Vitamin D deficiency is known to affect the formation of eggs in the uterus. Therefore, in countries, where winters are long and dark, the ability to conceive may sometimes reduce, however, this trend reverses during the summer months when exposure to the sun is more.
The Vitamin D receptor is present in multiple female reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovary and the placenta. Calcitriol (the active form of Vitamin D) plays an important role in the reproductive process. Its functions are -
- It regulates the genes in the female body that are responsible for secreting ‘estrogen’.
- The lining of the uterus produces Calcitriol before implantation, as it controls those genes that are responsible for the implantation of the egg.
- It also helps in boosting the immune system of the body so that infections are prevented during pregnancy.
In case of IVF (In-vitro fertilization), women, in whom Vitamin D levels are higher, are more successful with pregnancy rates. Some studies have also shown that taking Vitamin D supplements has been linked with high fertility rates.